Walmart's plan to increase sharply its intake of renewable energy illustrates a growing trend in the U.S. for wind-power developers to tap new markets such as the corporate sector, observers said. The private sector is increasingly drawn to wind power because of the environmental value that it brings, said Jerry Bloom, a partner at law firm Winston & Strawn.
A plan by Boulder, Colo., to create its own utility took a step forward after the City Council voted 8-1 to authorize the assembling of data needed to make an informed decision about ending the partnership deal with Xcel Energy. Supporters of municipalization hope that it would lead to Boulder drawing more than 50% of its power from renewable sources. Xcel, the top utility provider of wind power in the U.S., has challenged the city's financial projections, calling them unrealistic.
RES Americas has begun constructing a 250-megawatt wind farm in Kansas that is owned by GE Energy Financial Services and Enel Green Power North America. GE Energy Financial Services owns 51% of the Buffalo Dunes wind project, while Enel owns the remainder. The project will use 135 GE wind turbines and is due for completion by December, GE said.
Large integrated utilities overtook independent power producers as the biggest investors in renewable energy in 2012, according to an analysis by Deloitte. Renewable-energy spending by large integrated utilities rose from 1.5 gigawatts in 2011 to 3.4 GW in 2012, while those by independent power producers fell from 3.8 GW in 2011 to 2.1 GW in 2012, Deloitte said.
Brazil's wind farms posted an average efficiency of 54% last year, higher by 12 percentage points than earlier estimates, said Elbia Melo, president of the Associacao Brasileira de Energia Eolica. Brazil is experiencing a boom in wind-farm development, with the country's total wind capacity to increase to about 6,000 megawatts in 2013, said Melo. The sector's critics "were justified in their concerns that the wind farms won't operate at the level they promised. They're going to operate at a much higher level," Melo added.